Grimes, Nikki 1950–
GRIMES, Nikki 1950–
Born October 20, 1950, in Harlem, NY; daughter of James (a violinist) and Bernice (a keypunch operator) Grimes; children: Tawfiqa (daughter; deceased). Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1974. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Knitting, reading, long walks, talking with friends, cooking, playing word games.
Writer. Blackafrica Promotions, Inc., New York, NY, talent coordinator, 1970-71; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, instructor in writing and applied sociolinguistics at Livingston College, 1972-74; Harlem Teams for Self-Help, New York, NY, documentary photographer, 1975-76; WBAI-FM Radio, New York, NY, scriptwriter and producer of The Kid Show, 1977-78; Riksradio, Sweden, scriptwriter and producer, 1979-80; AB Exportsprak Translators, Sweden, proofreader and translator, 1980-84; freelance writer and editor, 1984-89; Walt Disney Co., Burbank, CA, writer and editor, 1989-91; freelance writer, 1991—. University of California, Los Angeles, library assistant, 1986-88; Swedish/English translator of computer systems manuals. Lecturer at colleges, universities, and workshops, including Pratt Institute, City University of New York, Studio Museum of Harlem, University of Massachusetts, and New York University; consultant to Swedish Educational Radio and New York's Cultural Council Foundation.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN Center U.S.A. West, Authors Guild, Children's Literature Council.
Ford Foundation grant for research in Tanzania, 1974-75; Best Books of the Year selection, Child Study Association, and Children's Book of the Year Award, Bank Street College of Education, both for Growin'; Books for Free Children citation, Ms. magazine, Children's Book citation, Library of Congress, Best Books of the Year designation, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Best Books of the Season designation, Saturday Review, all 1978, and Notable Books citation, American Library Association (ALA), 1978-79, all for Something on My Mind; NAACP IMage Award finalist, 1992, for Malcolm X: A Force for Change; Benjamin Franklin Picture Book Award, 1993, for From a Child's Heart; Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, ALA, Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award nominee, and Notable Books citation, ALA, and 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing includee, New York Public Library, all 1994, all for Meet Danitra Brown; Notable Books citation, ALA, 1997, for Come Sunday; Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, Bank Street College of Education Book of the Year, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age designation, South Carolina Young-Adult Book Award, all 1998, all for Jazmin's Notebook; Bank Street College Children's Book of the Year, 1998, for A Dime a Dozen; Bank Street College Children's Book of the Year, Marion Vannett Ridgway Award, Booklist Editors' Choice, and Riverbank Review Children's Books of Distinction finalist, all 1999, all for My Man Blue; Parents Choice Award, 1999, for Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, and 2000, for Is It Far to Zanzibar?; Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, 2000, for Shoe Magic Is It Far to Zanzibar?; Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and CCBC Choice, 2002, both for A Pocketful of Poems; Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and Notable Social Studies Trade Book designation, both 2001, both for Stepping out with Grandma Mac; ATB Best Children's Book, 2002, for When Daddy Prays; Society of Illustrators Silver Medal, 2002, for Under the Christmas Tree illustrated by Kadir Nelson; New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age designation, and Charlotte Young Adult Award nomination, both 2002, and Coretta Scott King Author Award, 2003, all for Bronx Masquerade; Coretta Scott King Honor Book, ALA Notable Book designation, and Horn Book Fanfare title, all 2003, all for Talkin' about Bessie; Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), 2006; NCTE Notable Book in the Language Arts, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age designation, both 2005, and Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2006, all for Dark Sons; Booklist Editors' Choice, 2006, for The Road to Paris.
for young people
Growin' (novel), illustrated by Charles Lilly, Dial (New York, NY), 1977.
Something on My Mind (poems), illustrated by Tom Feelings, Dial (New York, NY), 1978.
Oh, Bother! Someone's Baby-Sitting!, illustrated by Sue DiCicco, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991.
Oh, Bother! Someone's Fighting, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991, 2nd edition published as Someone's Fighting, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Malcolm X: A Force for Change, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1992.
Minnie's New Friend, illustrated by Peter Emslie and Darren Hunt, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.
(Adapter) Walt Disney's Pinocchio, illustrated by Phil Ortiz and Diana Wakeman, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.
From a Child's Heart (poems), illustrated by Brenda Joysmith, Just Us Books (East Orange, NJ), 1993.
(Reteller) Cinderella, illustrated by Don Williams and Jim Story, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.
C Is for City, illustrated by Pat Cummings, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1995.
Come Sunday, illustrated by Michael Bryant, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.
Wild, Wild Hair, illustrated by George Ford, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
It's Raining Laughter (poems), photographs by Myles Pinkney, Dial (New York, NY), 1997.
Jazmin's Notebook, Dial (New York, NY), 1998.
A Dime a Dozen, Dial (New York, NY), 1998.
Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1999.
At Break of Day, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
My Man Blue (poems), illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, Dial (New York, NY), 1999.
Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, illustrated by Ashley Bryan, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1999.
When Daddy Prays, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.
Stepping out with Grandma Mac, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Shoe Magic, illustrated by Terry Widener, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.
A Pocketful of Poems, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Is It Far to Zanzibar? (poems), illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 2000.
Bronx Masquerade, Dial (New York, NY), 2002.
Under the Tree: Poems of Christmas, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
Talkin' about Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2002.
What Is Goodbye?, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2004.
Tai Chi Morning: Snapshots of China, illustrated by Ed Young, Cricket (Chicago, IL), 2004.
A Day with Daddy, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Dark Sons, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2005.
At Jerusalem's Gate: Poems of Easter, illustrated by David Frampton, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.
Thanks a Million, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2006.
Welcome, Precious, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Orchard (New York, NY), 2006.
The Road to Paris, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.
Voices of Christmas, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.
When Gorilla Goes Walking, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Oh, Brother!, illustrated by Mike Benny, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of books based on Walt Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse Tales and The Little Mermaid, published by Running Press (Philadelphia, PA); Disney Babies Bedtime Stories; The Viking's Eye and Sky Island, both in the "Mickey Mouse Adventures" series; My Favorite Book and The Great Castle Contest, in the "Minnie 'n' Me" series; Fast Friends, Eeyore's Tail Tale, and Rabbit Marks the Spot, in the "Winnie the Pooh Twin" series; Her Chance to Dream, in the "Tale Spin" series; and Fake Me to Your Leader and Catteries Not Included, in the "Rescue Rangers" series.
for young people; "danitra brown" series
Meet Danitra Brown (poems), illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1994.
Danitra Brown Leaves Town (poems), illustrated by Floyd Cooper, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
Danitra Brown, Class Clown, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, HarperCollins (New York, NY) 2005.
under pseudonym naomi mcmillan
Wish You Were Here, illustrated by Vaccaro Associates, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1991.
(Reteller) Cinderella, McClanahan (New York, NY), 1995.
(Reteller) Jack and the Beanstalk, McClanahan (New York, NY), 1995.
"golden books" board books; under pseudonym naomi mcmillan
Baby's Colors, illustrated by Keaf Holliday, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1995.
Baby's Bedtime, illustrated by Sylvia Walker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1995.
Busy Baby, illustrated by Anna Rich, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1996.
Poems By, CB Broadside Publications, 1970.
Portrait of Mary (historical novel), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Work represented in anthologies, including Night Comes Softly, edited by Nikki Giovanni; Necessary Noise, Hold Christmas in Your Heart, Daddy Poems, Stone Bench in an Empty Park, On the Wings of Peace, Pass it On, In Praise of Our Mothers and Fathers, and The Twentieth-Century Children's Poetry Treasury. Theater and arts critic, New York Amsterdam News, 1975-76. Contributor to periodicals, including Essence, Today's Christian Woman, National Forum, Calalloo, Greenfield Review, Obsidian, Vision, Black World, Time Capsule, and Sunday Woman. Contributing editor, Unique NY, 1977-78.
A poet, novelist, and the author of picture books, Nikki Grimes manages to reach many audiences with her works—from very young children, to middle-grade readers, to older teens and adults. The recipient of numerous honors, including two Coretta Scott King Honor Book citations, Grimes once noted: "The word, both written and spoken, has always held a special fascination for me. It seemed uncanny that words, spread across a page just so, had the power to transport me to another time or place. But they could. I spent many hours ensconced in the local library, reading—nay, devouring—book after book after book. Books were my soul's delight. Even so, in one sense, the stories I read betrayed me. Too few gave me back my mirror image. Fewer still spoke to, or acknowledged, the existence of the problems I faced as a black foster child from a dysfunctional and badly broken home. I couldn't articulate it then, but I sensed a need for validation which the books I read did not supply. 'When I grow up,' I thought, 'I'll write books about children who look and feel like me.'"
Whether writing poetry or fiction, Grimes has succeeded in creating works featuring young African-American characters with whom children and young adults can identify. Drawing upon scenes from her own experiences growing up in Harlem, she is noted for successfully conveying the black experience and universal themes such as friendship, tolerance, family and community relationships, and children surviving adolescence. Despite a difficult childhood, her stories are characterized by optimism and warmth, a fact that has made volumes such as her multi-award-winning novel Bronx Masquerade required reading in middle-grade and high-school classrooms throughout the United States. "A fantastic choice for readers' theater," according to Booklist critic Gillian Engberg," Bronx Masquerade focuses on Tyrone Bittings, an inner city teen who discovers his writers' voice and inspires his high-school classmates to express themselves through poetry. As Horn Book contributor Susan P. Bloom wrote: "In shared pain and need," each of the book's teen protagonists "become poets; as readers, we want to believe their individual poetic gifts, even as we hear Grimes's considerable talent behind theirs."
"I was moved around a lot as a child," Grimes once explained, "always having to adjust to new neighborhoods, new schools, new faces. The most difficult aspect of my constant uprooting was struggling to make new friends, leaving them behind, moving to a new neighborhood, and starting the whole process over again. Yet I had no choice, but I both needed and wanted friends. The fact that each friendship was bound to be short-lived only made it the more precious to me. It is little wonder that friendship is a theme to which I return again and again. Growin', my first book for children, had friendship as its primary focus."
Featuring a poetry-writing African-American fifth grader named Yolanda who is nicknamed Pump (for Pumpkin), Growin' recounts the child's troubles as she tries to adjust to her father's death, the resultant move to a strange neighborhood, and ongoing friction with her mother. Pump, however, makes friends with the bully at her new school after they discover mutual artistic interests and find themselves aligned against their peers and school authorities. A Kirkus Reviews critic commended the book's "black ghetto setting and conspicuously non-sexist relationship," while Zena Sutherland, in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, praised Grimes for her competent writing style and warm story. Although reviewers concurred that characters could have been more fully developed, they cited the story's heartening tale, ample adventure, and believable resolution to conflict.
As Grimes noted, the subject of friendship is revisited in the poetry collections Something on My Mind and From a Child's Heart. About the first book, Jeanne McLain Harms and Lucille J. Lettow, writing in School Library Journal, described the pairing of illustrator Tom Feelings' black-and-white sketches and Grimes' free-verse responses to black children's urban experiences as "simple, eloquent, and in tune." A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that "the artist and lyricist couldn't reveal the thoughts of the boys and girls portrayed here more acutely if they were inside their subjects' skins." School Library Journal contributor Ruth M. McConnell further noted that reflections are not only of the African-American experience but "the universal marking-time, growing pains, and perplexities of youth in poignant, funny, and sad ways." From a Child's Heart, described by a Kirkus Reviews contributor as comprised of "thirteen subtly cadenced, accessible poems [written] in an authentically childlike voice," contains "a modicum of rhyme, a conscious if informal sense of innocence, and more than a little sentimentality," according to Betsy Hearne in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.
"The subject [of friendship] is most squarely dealt with in Meet Danitra Brown, an ode to friendship if ever there was one!" Grimes continued. In this collection of thirteen poems, narrator Zuri talks about herself and her admiration for her good friend Danitra Brown. Cyrisse Jaffee, writing in the Women's Review of Books, summarized the collection as an "affectionate portrait of friendship and individuality" and lauded Grimes' language as "filled with energy and rhythm" which lent itself to reading aloud. In School Library Journal, Barbara Osborne Williams concluded that the book provides a glimpse of "touching moments of friendship with universal appeal." Although Betsy Hearne, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, expressed concern that readers might be put off by such an effusive display of admiration, she pointed out that for those uncomfortable with more formal poetry, "this book will prove a satisfying introduction and sturdy friend." In addition, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that "issues of race, feminism and family structure are delicately incorporated" in Grimes' work.
A popular and likeable character, Danitra Brown also stars in two follow-up stories told in verse. In Danitra Brown, Class Clown Zuri is having trouble dealing with a new teacher after the woman separates her from friend Danitra in class. Despite this, Danitra does her best to help Zuri study, distract the class when Zuri makes a mistake, and being an all-around good friend. "Danitra is as feisty, loyal, and adventurous as always," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. As Mary Elam wrote in School Library Journal, "Grimes's text … neatly voices the critical self-examination of preadolescent girls." The effect of Zuri's depiction of was obvious to Dove Lempke, who wrote in Horn Book that "readers, who in real life might poke fun at the unconventional Danitra, instead see her through Zuri's loving eyes."
Grimes comes by her urban insights quite naturally. "Born in Harlem, I have since lived in every borough of New York City save Staten Island. Consequently, cityscapes form the backdrop of most of my writing." This is most evident in her C Is for City, where the delights of city life are described in alliteration, rhythm, and rhyme from A to Z. Booklist reviewer Julie Yates Walton called the book a "hustling, bustling, urban ABC book" that city children will surely "identify with."
Grimes' Come Sunday is a collection of fourteen poems about LaTasha, a vivacious little girl who loves to attend the community church, Paradise Baptist. As Elizabeth Bush pointed out in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, included are "just the details children find fascinating about Sunday rituals," as well as a "sensitive look at a child's spirituality." A Kirkus Reviews critic lauded the "suite of pitch-perfect poems" and concluded: "Whatever their religious background, readers will smile at the jubilation." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly commentator summarized Come Sunday as "reverent, funny and wildly energetic all at the same time."
Grimes presents a middle-grade novel in Jazmin's Notebook, the story of an African-American teenager living with her sister in a small Harlem apartment. Set during the late 1960s, the novel describes the difficult life of young Jazmin and the way in which the girl is able to find strength and meaning by writing poetry and keeping a journal of her life. Booklist critic Hazel Rochman called Jazmin's journal entries and occasional poems "funny, tender, angry, and tough." Through the course of these writings, the reader comes to know a teen who has spunk and is resourceful. Bounced around from one foster home and relative to the next, Jazmin finally has found her place with her older sister. Picked on at school for her thick glasses, she nonetheless maintains her A average and discounts the bad advice of her counselor who tries to talk her out of pursuing academics. "Many teens will relate to Jazmin, whether she is talking about the power of religion, friendship, or laughter, or about her attraction to a luscious guy," Rochman wrote. "Readers will be drawn into Jazmin's neighborhood," observed a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, the critic going on to call Jazmin an "articulate, admirable heroine … [who] leaps over life's hurdles with agility and integrity."
Much of Grimes' middle-grade fiction is told through poetry. In What Is Goodbye? she presents multiple viewpoints by featuring the voices of two siblings mourning their older brother. Jesse expresses anger at being abandoned by his older brother, while his sister Jerilyn handles her grief on her own. "Insightfully and concisely, Grimes … traces the stages of grief and healing," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor of the book. A Kirkus Reviews contributor also noted how Grimes handled the feeling of loss in her poetry, writing that the author "addresses many areas of the grief process, often in a poignant fashion." Gillian Engberg commented in Booklist that, "moving and wise, these are poems that beautifully capture a family's heartache." School Library Journal contributor Nina Lindsay deemed What Is Goodbye? "a prime example of how poetry and story can be combined to extend one another."
Dark Sons shares the same dual-narrator poetry technique to tell a story, but the two narrators in this case are separated by thousands of years. Modern-day Samuel is angry at his father for remarrying and having a new son, while Ishmael of the Bible rails at his father Abraham for not loving him as much as Isaac. Both narrators rely on their faith to move them through their troubles; Samuel eventually learns to love his father's new family, while Ishmael is sent into the wilderness with his mother, trusting that God will provide where Abraham could not. A Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that the "strength of the poetry" combined with the dominance of the faith theme "distinguishes and illuminates" the book. As Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist, "the elemental connections of hope … will speak to a wide audience." The faith element does not detract readers without a religious background, according to School Library Journal contributor Patricia D. Lothrop. "Even faith-challenged readers can admire and learn from these stories of struggle in vernacular verse," Lothrop concluded.
Other Grimes titles are told in straight prose, including her middle-grade novel The Road to Paris. Paris, a nine-year-old biracial girl in a white neighborhood, struggles against the racism that is dominant in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is her brother Malcolm, with whom she runs away from an abusive foster home. Between Malcolm and her faith in God, Paris struggles to form a family, despite the odds against her. Rochman considered the novel to be "a beautiful story of family, friendship, and faith."
Grimes has also written biographies for young readers, introducing them to notable African Americans in history. Talkin' about Bessie: The Story of AviatorElizabeth Coleman takes readers to 1920s Chicago and celebrates the life of the first African-American woman aviator. Set at the scene of her funeral, Bessie Coleman history is told through memories of the people in her life: friends, family, and those who she inspired. "Teller by teller, the story moves chronologically and builds emotionally to the last entry," wrote Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan. Lynda Jones, writing in Black Issues Book Review, praised the biography as "a rich and loving account of one young woman's desire to follow her dream."
Along with biographies, Grimes has written picture books focusing on travel. "I inherited my father's passion for travel," Grimes once commented, "and have been to such places as China, Russia, Austria, Trinidad, and Tanzania, where I spent one year. My longest sojourn was in Sweden, where I lived for six years. In fact, I have Sweden to thank for my favorite hobby: knitting." Tai Chi Morning: Snapshots of China, for example, focuses on Grimes' voyage to China, where she was part of an artists' tour that performed, read, and taught while traveling through that vast Asian nation. The text, a collection of poems, forms a travelogue of Grimes' experiences abroad and "opens up possibilities for history, culture, and poetry classes for middle graders," as a Kirkus Reviews contributor explained. In Booklist Rochman wrote that the book portrays "the truth of the tourist experience, engaged but outside," while Allison Follos noted in School Library Journal that Grimes' "evocative poetry" serves as "a perfect choice to demonstrate journal writing."
It is in poetry that Grimes most often writes, telling autobiographical verse stories as well as tales of the city, families, and relationships. She mines her own past in the verse collection A Dime a Dozen by presenting scenes from her childhood: playing hopscotch with her big-footed father, and detailing the prickly relations between her father and mother that ultimately ended in divorce. "Free-flowing and very accessible, the poetry may inspire readers to distill their own life experiences into precise, imaginative words and phrases," suggested Susan Dove Lempke in a Booklist review of the collection. The twenty-two poems included in her collection Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems are short and "upbeat," according to Rochman, while My Man Blue tells a more-poignant story in fourteen "knowing, heartfelt poems," as a Publishers Weekly contributor described the verse. Here the reader learns of the friendship between a fatherless African-American boy named Damon and Blue, a rough-looking character who lost his own son to the streets. Together, the two shoot hoops and make outings to the park, and slowly learn to trust one another. Rochman, reviewing My Man Blue for Booklist, deemed it a "great picture book for older readers."
More poetry is served up in Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, a collection of thirteen short, interlocking poems that "skillfully uses the metaphor of weaving to explore the world of a talented girl," according to a contributor for Publishers Weekly. These poems describe the art of weaving, from gathering the materials to making dyes to spinning yarn, preparing the loom, and patterning a tapestry. Aneesa Lee, the weaver, is herself a woman of black, white, and Japanese heritages, and her weaving is, for her, a way of connecting with her larger community. "For adult weavers, the book will be a treasure," wrote the reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "and for children, it serves as a glimpse into the intricacies not only of weaving, but the patterns of daily life."
In a change from her characteristic realism, Grimes ventures to the exotic world of Tanzania in creating Is It Far to Zanzibar?, a collection of "rhyming, sing-song verse" at once both "light and playful," as Rochman commented in Booklist. Here Grimes tells of children picking coffee or being chased by a lion, presenting, as Rochman further noted, "an outsider's view of a Tanzania where everyone's having fun." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Julie Yates Walton commented that during Grimes' long career in prose and poetry, she has demonstrated a "breathtaking range in tone and style," and in her introduction to Tanzania she "offers a lively peek at the great big world."
With Shoe Magic Grimes again employs metaphor to look at lives, this time using children's shoes as a window to their wearer's lives. "This collection clearly celebrates its child readers," wrote Kathleen Whalin in a School Library Journal review, while Booklist critic Engberg predicted that young poets "will find inspiration" in the verse collection. Similarly, in A Pocketful of Poems "Grimes boils poetry down to its essence," creating a "picture book homage to words," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. "There is so much vibrant energy and freshness in this collaboration," exclaimed Booklist critic GraceAnne A. DeCandido, the critic adding that A Pocketful of Poems "will dance into the hearts of children right away." Lauralyn Persson, reviewing the same title in School Library Journal, found it to be a "playful and thoroughly successful pairing of words and pictures."
Although Grimes writes for children first and foremost, she has not limited herself to juvenile literature, but also writes books for older readers and magazine articles for a general audience. In the young-adult biography Malcolm X: A Force for Change, for example, Grimes examines the contributions and dreams of the renowned Black Muslim leader, while the novel Portrait of Mary presents a fictionalized version of the life of the mother of Jesus. "Passages from the Gospels punctuate the text and serve to give it a homogenized storyline," stated a critic for Kirkus Reviews of the latter work, while in the Los Angeles Times Book Review Susan Salter Reynolds cited the details Grimes interjects into her prose for injecting "life into the story" and allowing readers to "picture Mary's daily life and her hopes and fears for her son." "Grimes' Mary is a fully realized character," observed Ilene Cooper in Booklist, calling the novel "a compelling narrative."
Of her passions and hobbies, Grimes once explained: "I like to read, of course, go on long walks, talk with friends, cook, and play word games. But most of all," added the prolific author, "I love to write!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Children's Literature Review, Volume 42, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997, pp. 88-95.
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Black Issues Book Review, January-February, 2003, Lynda Jones, review of Talkin' about Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, p. 65.
Booklist, July 15, 1978, pp. 1732-1733; February 15, 1994, p. 1085; September 15, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of Portrait of Mary, p. 114; October 1, 1995, Julie Yates Walton, review of C Is for City, p. 322; October 1, 1997, p. 334; September 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Jazmin's Notebook, p. 228; December 1, 1998, Susan Dove Lempke, review of A Dime a Dozen, p. 664; January 1, 1999, p. 782; February 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems, p. 1064; October 1, 1999, p. 374; October 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of My Man Blue, p. 42; January 1, 2000, p. 821; March 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Is It Far to Zanzibar?, p. 1381; September 15, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Shoe Magic, p. 234; February 15, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Pocketful of Poems, p. 1154; April 1, 2001, p. 1473; May 15, 2001, p. 1750; February 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Bronx Masquerade, p. 1024; February 15, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Danitra Brown Leaves Town, p. 1033; November 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Talkin' about Bessie, p. 602; January 1, 2003, review of Talkin' about Bessie, p. 796; March 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Tai Chi Morning: Snapshots of China, p. 1186; May 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of What Is Goodbye?, p. 1558; February 15, 2005, John Green, review of At Jerusalem's Gate: Poems of Easter, p. 1076; August, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Danitra Brown, Class Clown, p. 2038; August, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Dark Sons, p. 2022; March 15, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Thanks a Million, p. 48; August 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Road to Paris; September 1, 2006, review of Welcome, Precious, p. 136.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1978, Zena Sutherland, review of Growin', p. 127; October, 1978, p. 30; February, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Something on My Mind, p. 188; July-August, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Meet Danitra Brown, p. 357; March, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of Come Sunday, pp. 248-249; January, 1998, p. 161.
Childhood Education, winter, 2002, Jonnette Zsolnay, review of C is for City, p. 108.
Ebony, September, 2006, review of Welcome, Precious, p. 31.
Five Owls, September-October, 1994, p. 14.
Horn Book, July-August, 1994, p. 467; March-April, 2002, Susan P. Bloom, review of Bronx Masquerade, p. 231; September-October, 2005, Dove Lempke, review of Danitra Brown, Class Clown,; November-December, 2005, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Dark Sons, p. 730; March-April, 2006, "Coretta Scott King Author Award," p. 235.
Kirkus Reviews, December, 1977, review of Growin', p. 1266; July 15, 1978, p. 747; October 15, 1993, review of From a Child's Heart, p. 1329; July 15, 1994, review of Portrait of Mary, p. 935; July 1, 1996, review of Come Sunday, p. 822; October 15, 1998, p. 1532; October 1, 1999, p. 1580; November 15, 1999, p. 1809; January 1, 2004, review of Tai Chi Morning, p. 36; April 1, 2004, review of What Is Goodbye?, p. 330; January 1, 2005, review of At Jerusalem's Gate, p. 52; June 15, 2005, review of Danitra Brown, Class Clown, p. 683; August 1, 2005, review of Dark Sons, p. 848; February 15, 2006, review of Thanks a Million, p. 183; August 15, 2006, review of Welcome, Precious, p. 84; September 1, 2006, review of The Road to Paris, p. 904.
Language Arts, September, 2003, Lester L. Laminack, review of Talkin' about Bessie, p. 78.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 11, 1994, Susan Salter Reynolds, review of Portrait of Mary, p. 6; April 8, 2001, p. 6.
New York Times Book Review, June 4, 2000, Julie Yates Walton, review of Is It Far to Zanzibar?, p. 449; November 19, 2000, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 1977, p. 67; May 29, 1978, review of Something on My Mind, p. 51; January 4, 1993, p. 74; October 18, 1993, p. 73; April 11, 1994, review of Meet Danitra Brown, p. 65; April 8, 1996, review of Come Sunday, p. 63; June 29, 1998, review of Jazmin's Notebook, p. 60; May 17, 1999, review of My Man Blue, p. 79; November 8, 1999, review of Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, p. 67; November 29, 1999, p. 69; January 17, 2000, p. 58; January 15, 2001, review of A Pocketful of Poems, p. 76; May 21, 2001, p. 109; December 17, 2001, review of Bronx Masquerade, p. 92; March 8, 2004, review of What Is Goodbye?, p. 74; October 31, 2005, review of Dark Sons, p. 58.
School Library Journal, December, 1977, p. 49; September, 1978, Ruth M. McConnell, review of Something on My Mind, p. 137; January, 1987, Jeanne McLain Harms and Lucille J. Lettow, "The Cupboard Is Bare: The Need to Expand Poetry Collections"; August, 1993, p. 196; December, 1993, p. 104; May, 1994, Barbara Osborne Williams, review of Meet Danitra Brown, p. 322; November, 1995, p. 71; June, 1997, p. 107; December, 1997, p. 90; July, 1998, p. 95; January, 1999, p. 142; May, 1999, p. 107; December, 1999, p. 119; January, 2000, p. 121; May, 2000, p. 161; October, 2000, Kathleen Whalin, review of Shoe Magic, p. 148; May, 2001, Lauralyn Persson, review of A Pocketful of Poems, p. 141; July, 2001, p. 124; January, 2002, Lynn Evarts, review of Bronx Masquerade, p. 132; February, 2002, Catherine Threadgill, review of Danitra Brown Leaves Town, p. 101; May, 2004, Alison Follos, review of Tai Chi Morning, p. 168; June, 2004, Nina Lindsay, review of What Is Goodbye?, p. 166; November, 2004, Alison Follos, review of Bronx Masquerade, p. 67; February, 2005, Catherine Callegari, review of A Day with Daddy, p. 97; March, 2005, Sally R. Dow, review of At Jerusalem's Gate, p. 228; April, 2005, review of What Is Goodbye?, p. S56; September, 2005, Mary Elam, review of Danitra Brown, Class Clown, p. 171; November, 2005, Patricia D. Lothrop, review of Dark Sons, p. 135; March, 2006, Mary N. Oluonye, review of Thanks a Million, p. 208.
Teacher Librarian, November, 1998, p. 45.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1998, p. 274.
Women's Review of Books, November, 1994, Cyrisse Jaffee, "A World of Words," pp. 31-32.*
Library of Congress Bookfest,http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/2003/ (November 3, 2006), "Nikki Grimes."
Nikki Grimes Home Page,http://www.nikkigrimes.com (November 3, 2006).